Aid groups working in war-torn Syria doubled their estimates and suggested at least 2.5 million Syrians have fled their homes because of the infighting.
The figure were released by Syrian Arab Red Crescent on Tuesday, whose volunteers are braving death and harsh weather on the front lines to deliver aid supplies to refugees and evacuate wounded people.
“The figure they are using is 2.5 million. If anything, they believe it could be more, that this is a very conservative estimate,” Melissa Fleming, chief spokeswoman of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said while addressing a news briefing.
“So people are moving, people are really on the run, hiding. They are difficult to count and to access,” she added.
Figures previously released by aid agencies suggested there were around 1.2 million internally displaced Syrians.
Around 95% of the 2.5 million are believed to be living with host families, making it more difficult to count them. The rest 5% has been housed in makeshift tents, schools, warehouses and other temporary shelters.
Air strikes carried out by the pro-Assad Syrian airforce on the town of Ras al-Ain near the Turkish border have caused some of the biggest refugee movements of the conflict.
The United Nations announced last week up to 4 million people inside Syria will need humanitarian aid by early next year amidst cold conditions.
While the UN World Food Programme (WFP) says its food rations are reaching some 1.5 million, it aims to provide more assistance, mainly blankets, clothing, cooking kits and jerry cans, to 500,000 in Syria by the end of the year.
A Syrian Arab Red Crescent warehouse in Aleppo was apparently hit by a shell, burning 13,000 blankets, Fleming claimed. There are also reports that unknown armed men hijacked a truck carrying 600 blankets on its way to Adra, outside Damascus.
According to UNHCR, more than 407,000 Syrian refugees have registered or await registration in the surrounding region – Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq – and more are fleeing every day.